The Top 10 Most Common Dog Health Issues

Unfortunately, health issues in our dogs impact people of all ages. Many pet owners put forth a lot of effort to ensure their animals are healthy and happy, but sometimes things happen that are out of their hands. Although it’s not pleasant to consider, knowing which problems, illnesses, or diseases are most likely to harm our dogs is essential.

It may come as a surprise to hear how often some of the various diseases and ailments that may afflict dogs really occur. According to the 2019 Pet Owners’ Survey Report, the cost of veterinary services is the second highest ongoing expense for pet owners, following the cost of pet food. More than eighty-four percent of the 806 dog owners surveyed in Australia said they had brought their pet to the vet during the last year, and the majority of those people took their dogs more than once, for an annual average of 2.1 trips. The third most frequent reason people take their pets to the vet is for treatment of an illness or injury.

We have compiled a list of the most often reported health issues we see at Bow Wow Meow, ranging in severity from easily treatable to emergencies requiring specialized treatment. Never, ever trust a Google search for a medical diagnosis or treatment! Talk to your vet as soon as possible to give your beloved dog the greatest chance of recovery. The breed, size, age, and general health of your dog are just some of the characteristics that will inform your veterinarian’s recommendations for care and treatment.

1. Cataracts

When it comes to senior dogs, this is a major health concern because of the severe impact it may have on their vision. Cataracts are cloudiness or opacity of the lens, which stops light from reaching the retina and causes vision loss. Cataracts may form in either eye, proceed at varying rates, and eventually cause severe visual impairment or even blindness.

Cataract symptoms include changes in behavior associated with diminished vision and the development of a white, blue, or grey spot in the center of the eye. Cataracts in dogs may be hard to see in their early stages because of the animal’s remarkable ability to utilize its other senses to compensate for its visual impairment.

These growths on the eye might appear for several reasons than just becoming older. Cataracts may form due to damage to the eye or due to an underlying medical condition. There is evidence that cataracts in dogs may be present from birth or develop in the first few weeks of a puppy’s life.

2. Arthritis

In senior dogs, arthritis (a catch-all phrase for abnormal changes in a joint) is quite frequent. It’s estimated that 20% of canine populations in Australia are affected by arthritis. In elderly dogs, it is a leading cause of persistent discomfort and may lead to irreversible joint degeneration. The hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows are the most often afflicted joints in dogs.

Your dog will be much less energetic than it used to be, and they may take longer to get up on their feet in the morning or when it’s cold outside. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know whether your dog has arthritis. In the early stages, your dog may be able to mask its pain and suffering despite how severe it is.

If your dog suffers from arthritis, you may be able to alleviate its discomfort with a combination of regular exercise, dietary changes, and anti-inflammatory medication.

3. Ear Infections

Long-eared dog breeds and outdoor dogs are more likely to get ear infections.

A dog’s ear may easily get inflamed and infected by foreign objects like dirt, dust, or even a grass seed that has been trapped within the ear. If your dog is tossing its head and pawing at its ears regularly, it may have an ear infection. Ear infections may cause redness, crusting, discharge, and unpleasant odors.

Your veterinarian may recommend antibiotic ear drops to treat the infection. Cleaning your dog’s ears on a regular basis is another helpful practice to adopt (learn how to do this properly here).

4. Kennel Cough

Dogs who have been in confined spaces, such a kennel, a vet’s office, or a pet hotel, are more likely to have kennel cough. It’s a terrible disease that spreads rapidly from animal to animal by aerosolized droplets or direct contact with infected surfaces (water, food bowl or contact with another dog). Despite how scary it may seem, kennel cough is really very similar to the common cold in humans and seldom results in anything more severe than a mild case of sniffles.

If your pet has a kennel cough, the best thing you can do for it is to let it relax and provide it with a healthy diet and lots of fresh water. If your dog’s condition is especially severe, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to treat it. To learn more about how to protect your dog from contracting Kennel Cough, see our vaccine advice.

5. Diarrhoea

Diarrhea, characterized by frequent watery or loose bowel movements, is quite prevalent in dogs. This is because it may result from a variety of factors, some of which are dangerous, while others result from something as benign as a dietary shift or a hypersensitive stomach. Severe dehydration may cause weakness, inability to exercise, and even collapse and convulsions.

Diarrhea often improves with time, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep. However, there are a number of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, infections, and cancer, that may cause persistent diarrhea. Any ailment that lasts for longer than a week should be checked out by your vet.

6. Fleas and ticks

Fleas are a kind of parasite that almost every dog will encounter at some point in its life. Because fleas may travel from one host to another, your dog will likely pick them up from a close encounter with an affected animal. When a dog has fleas, even one on its body, it may cause intense itching. Scratching, pawing, and licking at the bites in an effort to alleviate the itching may cause inflammation, infection, and even hair loss.

You may purchase a variety of flea preventatives and treatments at your local pet shop, and you’ll have no trouble getting rid of fleas once and for all.

However, ticks are far more dangerous. Paralysis ticks are prevalent on Australia’s eastern coast from August to February, and they may cause your dog significant health issues, including blood poisoning and even death. These sly parasites wait in the foliage until your pet passes through it, making outdoor pets, those who contact with wildlife, and those who have access to bushy or grassy places at much higher risk of picking up a Paralysis Tick.

Protection of your cat against Paralysis Ticks requires effective tick management.

The paralysis tick is discussed, and methods of flea prevention and treatment are outlined.

7. Heartworm 

Parasitic heartworms are elongated worms that develop and mature in an animal’s heart and lungs. Symptoms of a heartworm infection in your dog may not appear for years, and by the time they do, the disease has progressed to a potentially fatal stage.

While heartworms were formerly a widespread parasite in dogs, today’s treatments have almost eliminated the problem in Australia. Many veterinarians recommend annual blood and feces testing to detect any potentially dangerous illnesses. Worms are still prevalent in Australia and pose a significant health risk if unchecked. If you want to know what preventive measures are best for your dog, you should talk to the vet.

8. Broken Bones

Bones may shatter or fracture when they experience excessive force, as happens when someone is hit by a vehicle or falls from a great height. The incidence of canine fractures is unfortunately high.

Your dog will attempt to be strong and hide any signs of discomfort from you, so keep an eye out for things like a limp, any protruding lumps or bones, and whimpering or whining when handled.

Although some fractures are easily fixed, others may be quite challenging. Surgery to straighten the bones, immobilizing the limb to promote bone healing, relieving pain, and avoiding additional injury are all part of the treatment plan. During the four to six weeks that it takes for a bone fracture to heal, the animal’s activity level may need to be limited, and it may benefit from physical treatment.

9. Obesity

Owing to its prevalence, obesity is typically dismissed as a minor problem in Australian shepherds. Studies conducted on dogs in other countries show that as many as half of all dogs are overweight.

When it comes to canine health, obesity is one of the leading causes of chronic disease. Obesity increases the likelihood that your dog may develop serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, renal failure, arthritis, and many more.

The good news is that dog obesity is treatable. It is estimated that changing the dog’s food and increasing its activity level would solve 95 percent of obesity cases. If you’re worried that your dog could be overweight, consult with your vet.

10. Cancer

Unfortunately, canine cancer is as common in geriatric canines as it is in humans. Lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer are just a handful of the human malignancies that may affect dogs.

Dogs can get skin cancer, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any lumps or discolored areas on your pet’s body. One in every eleven cases of canine skin cancer is caused by mast cell tumors. As a result of a high concentration of mast cells on their skin, dogs experience these symptoms. Even though many of these tumors are benign despite their seemingly little appearance, they may be very dangerous and even fatal.

Cancer treatment options include surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Early detection is key for treating any kind of cancer.